Norfolk County Council’s Dr Wendy Thomson steps down from leading region’s health overhaul

Dr Wendy Thomson. 

Dr Wendy Thomson. Photo: SIMON FINLAY.

The managing director of Norfolk County Council has stepped down from leading the region’s healthcare overhaul.

Dr Wendy Thomson was appointed to lead the county’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) in May 2016, but has now said it was “the right time to hand the role on to an NHS colleague”.

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The STP is one of 44 across the country. In Norfolk and Waveney £300m of savings have been earmarked in the plan, with £150m of investment. Former health secretary Patricia Hewitt was appointed as the plan’s independent chairman in June.

A move which aimed to “bang heads together”, senior sources told the Health Service Journal. In a statement Ms Hewitt said her appointment was a contributing factor to Dr Thomson stepping down, alongside “the shift in focus from set-up to implementation”.

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Dr Thomson will remain a member of the STP executive board, but will leave the role of programme lead once her successor has been chosen from within one of the NHS organisations involved in the changes.

Dr Thomson said: “As the STP moves from set up to delivery and becomes focused on the priorities set out in the latest guidance, it is right for me to pass the executive lead to an NHS colleague. I will remain actively involved, and fully committed to transforming Norfolk’s health and care system to serve our community well now and into the future. I look forward to continuing to work with Patricia Hewitt.”

MORE: Hospital closures ruled out by NHS chiefs as councillors discuss new health plan

Ms Hewitt added: “All the members of the oversight group are enormously grateful to Wendy for everything she has done since the STP was established [...] it is a tribute to her, and all her executive colleagues, that the STP has been placed in the ‘advanced’ category by NHS England. We are also delighted that Wendy will continue to represent the county council, together with James Bullion [executive director of adult social services] on the STP executive board.”

MORE: Concerns over transparency as public get their first say on plans for Norfolk and Waveney’s healthcare overhaul

Concerns over transparency surrounding the STP were raised at a Question Time-style event last month, arranged by Healthwatch Norfolk. A panel took pre-submitted questions from the audience, but also responded to on-the-night queries. However some responses were greeted with heckles and boos from the audience.

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